Back to Russia

The Return

 

After an extended sojourn in the UK, Soviet city is finally back to life and back to Russia.

I first noticed something was different at the visa control desk.  For one thing there were no queues.  I toddled off the plane straight up to a vacant kassa. “Strange” I thought, remembering the horrendous 1 or 2 hour visa queues of the past.

The middle aged women behind the counter smiled weakly, scanned my passport and visa in every orientation possible, printed out the migration card and said (in English!) “Veelcum to Rassiya Mr S” and buzzed me into the biggest country in the world.

“Wow, they speak English nowadays” I gasped internally.

I was in again, back to the country that has changed my life in so many ways.

 

Everything Changes

 

How have I found Russia this time around?

Well, hot, damn hot.  I’m always amused when I hear the tired old stereotype about Russia being cold all year round. When I first arrived in April the heating was permanently on in my flat, meaning a sweltering 28 degrees all day and night.

The heating was finally turned off just a couple of days before victory day.

Thank god.

A few days later the weather bloomed into summer, meaning it was still 28 degrees all night and day in the flat. I expect this to continue until sometime in September.  Have we got air-con in our flat?  Of course not.

Perhaps its just me, but every time I come back to Russia things seem to have always slightly changed.  Things seem to be ever so slightly cleaner, greener and just a touch more European.

 

New Anti-Smoking law

 

From 1 June a new law will be introduced in Russia which bans smoking in many public places such as government building, sports venues, museums and schools.  This is great news, although I can’t wait to see if it will actually be observed or not.

I remember my first trip through Sheremetevo airport many years ago.

The terminal building was filled with thick dense smoke from the countless travellers puffing away incessantly.  It was awful. I considered bringing a gas mask on my next trip.  I was so glad when smoking was finally banned there.

Another aspect of the new law is that smoking in apartment stairwells is banned.  This is welcome news, but I worry that smokers will now stay in their apartments and smoke in their families faces instead of going to the stairwell.

After all, many Russian men are far too macho to give a shit about the health of their family, there is no way they are going to go to the street to smoke!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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